Abiteboul certain that catching McLaren is 'doable'

Cyril Abiteboul (FRA) Renault Sport F1 Managing Director.
© XPB 

Renault team principal Cyril Abiteboul remains convinced that catching McLaren for fourth place in the constructors championship is possible with seven races still to go in 2019.

A strong Monza weekend saw Renault cut McLaren's advantage in the points standings by over half. Fourth and fifth place for Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg in the Italian Grand Prix netted Renault a total of 22 points.

Meanwhile McLaren ended the weekend with just a single point from Lando Norris crossing the line in tenth, after Carlos Sainz was forced to retire following a botched pit stop. It means the gap between the two teams is now down to just 18 points.

Ironically McLaren is a customer team for the French manufacturer's power units, making this a more personal battle between the squads than a mere scrap over 'best of the rest' honours behind the big three teams.

"The target was still P4 and today the target remains P4," Abiteboul confirmed. "I think we are 18 points away from them: seven races to go, three points average more than them, it’s completely doable.

“I think there will be a number of tracks where they will be quicker than us, that’s a fact," he conceded. "And there will be a number tracks where we will be quicker than them."

Abiteboul stressed that the secret to beating McLaren was to maximise Renault's opportunities when they came. "We just need to be capable of doing what we have not done so far, and when we are quicker, scoring more points.

“It’s been bumpy this year,” he admitted of Renault's performance up to now in 2019. “There have been a number of occasions where we could have had a decent result with some points and helping for the championship.

Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Renault F1 Team RS19 and Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Renault F1 Team RS19 at the start of the race.

"That has not happened for many different reasons - sometimes for our own cause, sometimes external factors," he told the official Formula1.com website this week.

He added that in Italy, for almost the first time this season, "nothing has gone against us, against the result ... a deserved result."

Abiteboul added that it was proof that Renault were heading in the right direction and paying off their earlier decisions on engine design in particular.

“I think it’s really fair to say the job done on the engine side is very clear, he said. "We were competitive in Montreal, in Spa, in Monza, which means the demonstration is clear.

“The weaknesses of the car are still here," he admitted. "That’s why I’m not overjoyed, because I know there still will be tough times ahead of us in the season. But this is just a demonstration of the strengths."

And even if Renault does achieve fourth place in this year's team championship, it's still only the first step in their ambitious plans to climb the ladder of success.

“The target is not just McLaren," Abiteboul stressed. "The target is to improve everywhere and against everyone.

"Ultimately, P5 and P4 is good - but it’s not where we want to stop."

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